- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 9, 2004

BALTIMORE — Jay Gibbons watched as the Cleveland Indians intentionally walked Javy Lopez in front of him. The Baltimore Orioles’ slumping slugger walked out of the on-deck circle knowing it probably would be his team’s best chance to get back into the game.

Gibbons, batting .204 overall and .135 against left-handers, stepped in to face lefty Scott Stewart with the bases loaded, two outs and the Orioles down by three in the seventh.

“It is like, ‘Man, have some pride,’” Gibbons said he told himself. “‘Hit the ball hard and have a good at bat.’ It has been a while since something like [walking the man ahead of me] has happened.”

After the self-prompting, Gibbons hit a flare inside the right-field line to clear the bases and propel the Orioles to a 10-7 win to the delight of 30,687 at Camden Yards. Gibbons’ double tied the game, and he scored the winning run on B.J. Surhoff’s bloop single inside the third-base line.

The Orioles overcame a four-run deficit early only to fall behind by three. That was before Gibbons’ clutch hit led to the club’s second straight win. Baltimore (15-12) will have a chance to sweep the series this afternoon.

“I hope it gets me going,” said Gibbons, whose three hits included an RBI single in the eighth for the final run. “This is my livelihood. You expect to be able to produce. … I am having trouble sleeping right now. It feels good to get this one in and get a good night’s sleep tonight.”

Baltimore’s bats and sterling bullpen carried the Orioles on a day when they had to overcome another poor performance by a starting pitcher. Kurt Ainsworth allowed seven runs in 42/3 innings before the bullpen shut out the Indians the rest of the way.

John Parrish (3-1) went 21/3 innings to get the win, B.J. Ryan threw a perfect eighth, and Jorge Julio gained his fourth save with a perfect ninth as Baltimore handed the Indians their fourth straight loss.

“Anything can happen after being down one, two or even four runs,” said Parrish, part of a bullpen that has an American League-high nine wins. “[We] are going to come back and swing the bat.”

The Orioles trailed 7-4 before batting around in the seventh. Brian Roberts (two hits) led off with a single, and Melvin Mora (three hits) doubled. One out later, the Indians pulled starter Brian Westbrook — who came in with the American League’s lowest ERA at 1.32 but gave up six earned runs — for Stewart.

Rafael Palmeiro lined out to second baseman Rafael Belliard before the Indians played the percentages by walking Lopez. Gibbons made them pay for it.

“Obviously, you have to make that move,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of walking right-handed Lopez to get to lefty Gibbons. “That’s a time when you are looking to shine.”

Ainsworth, who walked five, was soundly booed after yielding three-run homers to Jody Gerut in the fourth and Travis Hafner in the fifth as the Indians built early leads. The right-hander’s poor performance came after two good starts in which he allowed one run in each.

“I can live with the home runs and the hits,” Ainsworth said. “But the free passes are just ridiculous.”

Notes — Teams wore replica jerseys from 1954 as the Orioles held their first “Turn Back the Clock” weekend to commemorate their 50th anniversary season. Five members of the 1954 Orioles threw out first balls: pitchers Don Larsen and Bob Turley, shortstop Billy Hunter and outfielders Gil Coan and Joe Durham.

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